Zero turnout in Soura ward

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Srinagar, Oct 16: Three candidates, an electorate of 11,265 but not a single vote cast through the day. That was the ‘zero sum’ story of Srinagar Municipal Corporation’s Soura ward in the fourth and final phase of elections to Jammu and Kashmir’s urban local bodies Tuesday.
Although low voter turnout in Srinagar and many other parts of the Valley has been a hallmark of the civic body elections, this is the first time that no voter turned up in an entire ward, officials said.
Three candidates were in the fray from Soura, about 10 kilometres from the city centre Lal Chowk.
Of the three, including a Kashmiri Pandit contesting on a BJP ticket, one is from Habba Kadal and one from Mujgund areas of the city and were not eligible to vote from Soura. The third is from the area but did not exercise his franchise, the officials said.
The heavily fortified polling station opened at 6 am and was open for voting till 4 pm.
But the booths remained empty through the 10 hours with youths hurling stones at the forces. This was being seen as an attempt to intimidate prospective votes from casting their ballot, officials said.
There were pitched battles between the forces and protestors in the municipal ward with teargas smoke leaving traces in the air. The protestors began picketing the area even before police was deployed. Stones and other hurdles were placed to block the roads.
Earlier this year, people thronged the streets of Soura when the body of Esa Fazli, a B.Tech student who joined Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen, which later became JKIS, arrived at his home here following his killing in an encounter with the forces.
There are five other wards in the Srinagar Municipal Corporation — one went to the polls in the first phase and two each in the second and third phase — where the voter turnout is less than 10 per cent.
Located on the Srinagar-Ladakh highway, Soura is where the state’s top tertiary care hospital, the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, is located.
On the banks of Anchar Lake, the area is also famous for the Aasaar Sharief Jinaab Saahib shrine which houses holy relics.
Panchayat elections in the state will be held over eight rounds beginning next month.
Votes for the urban local body elections will be counted on October 20.